Common Workplaces for an Automotive Technician

You’ve graduated from a vocational college or trade school and acquired the tools necessary to start your career as an automotive technician. So what’s next? What are your options and what type of job can you pursue?

Due to the wide variety of skills that automotive technicians possess, paired with an ever-changing and ever-growing automotive industry, there are countless career opportunities for students who graduate from programs such as AAI’s Automotive Service Technology Program.

With an estimated 800,000 people employed in the automotive industry , the industry is in high demand for quality technicians. While there are many positions and specializations for mechanics, we’ve outlined three of the most popular workplaces below:

1. Dealerships – There are several things that make working at a dealership unique. Dealerships have large service areas, servicing many cars at once. Due to their size, customers rarely meet the mechanic working on their car, but rather work with a service provider who serves as a liaison between the customer and the mechanic. Service providers consult with mechanics, explain to customers what work needs to be done, then provide them with a quote on how much the service will cost.

In most cases, the service department repairs and maintains only the brands of cars they sell or have sold. They are trained specifically in those brands and work solely with those manufacturers. In recent years, dealerships have transitioned to have both full service repair shops, which are meant to handle internal mechanical problems such as engine and transmission issues, and express shops, which serve to take care of routine and preventative maintenance such as tire rotations and oil changes.

In addition to servicing cars, mechanics who work in dealerships manage warranty jobs in which the manufacturer covers the majority of repairs. These jobs involve administrative reporting and tracking, requiring the mechanic or service provider to document issues. Mechanics at dealerships often work under pressure because there are general time limits assigned to each job to increase efficiency.

Nearly 30 percent of auto technicians work in dealerships and receive benefits such as medical insurance. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, auto technicians earn a median salary of $42,680 per year. SOURCE

2. Auto Mechanical Maintenance + Electrical Repair Shops – Similar to technicians who work at dealerships, automotive technicians that work in repair shops are also required to have fundamental skills in auto maintenance and repair. These skills include diagnosing complex problems, performing repairs, changing oil, checking fluid levels, rotating tires, changing batteries, and more. In addition to technical skills, auto technicians are focused problem solvers and critical thinkers, as repairs are not always routine and can involve creative solutions.

As opposed to dealerships, repair shops are smaller in size and generally work on all brands of cars; they have no loyalty to manufacturers as opposed to dealership technicians. Because repair shops are smaller, customers interact directly with the mechanic instead of a service provider. Many people prefer independent repair shops to dealerships because they are able to provide more direct customer service and it can be easier to build a relationship with their mechanic.

Government Repair Shops – Another career option is to work for government-owned auto repair shops. The government owns and operates all forms of transportation vehicles that require routine maintenance and repair including school busses, public transportation vehicles, and law enforcement vehicles.

3. Auto Parts, Accessories, and Tire Stores – Auto technicians who work in auto parts, accessories, and tire stores serve as salespeople but have the same fundamental skills as mechanics who work in dealerships and repair shops. These individuals specialize in the parts and pieces that mechanics use to repair and perform routine maintenance on cars. Specifically, they have extensive knowledge of how parts function and can provide advice to customers on how to install parts and accessories. Other duties include ordering parts from manufacturers, checking and changing car batteries, stocking shelves, and examining exchanged parts.

In addition to the workplace settings listed above, mechanics have a wide variety of other career options, many of which are specializations including automotive air-conditioning technicians, brake technicians, drivability technicians, front-end technicians, transmission technicians and rebuilders. Other auto mechanics build upon their skills to specialize in careers such as pit crew team members for racecar drivers.

Regardless of the job setting, students who attend vocational schools, such as AAI’s Automotive Service Technology Program, graduate equipped with fundamental skills and real-world knowledge to succeed and advance their careers as automotive technicians.

Spotlight on Diesel-Heavy Truck graduate Jesus Mercado Zazueta

Jesus Mercado Zazueta was referred by a friend who was getting ready to complete the Combination Welding program. During his Admissions tour, he was shown all 4 different programs and was indecisive on what he wanted to take. After viewing all that AAI had to offer, Jesus took a few weeks to think about which program he was going to choose. He did his research and spoke with his family about the career decision he was ready to make. Finally, Jesus decided to go through the Diesel Heavy Truck Diploma.

At first Jesus believed that it was going to be easy and that he could manage working at his full time job, attend school, complete his homework and spend time with his daughter. He found himself struggling the first few weeks until he reached out to his instructors for some help. His instructors were patient and offered him tutoring and the support that Jesus needed at the time.

Jesus starting working with Career Services early on in his program and really benefited from the workshops offered by Career Services department. Jesus made it a point to attend and participate in the mock interviewing, resume writing assistance, and cover letter creation. He tried a few job referrals before landing his dream job at Werner Enterprises as a Diesel Mechanic.

Jesus can now afford to work one job and spend more time with his daughter, which was his primary motivation to succeed at everything he did during his time at AAI.

He graduated with honors receiving a 4.0 along with perfect attendance. His tip to students is “If you want it, you’ll get it! Don’t let life challenges stop you from accomplishing your dreams”.

mercado

The Most Important Thing to Take on an Interview

The day has arrived and you are preparing for your first interview. You have worked hard to learn a new skill. You have studied and passed your certification exam. You have a copy of your diploma, transcript and certificates demonstrating great attendance and grade point averages in your portfolio. You have multiple copies, ready to leave one behind for anyone that asks.  You have prepared an award winning resume. Your interview attire is perfect- clean and ironed. You have studied the top 10 questions you could be asked on an interview and you have prepared answers for all of them. But, there is still something missing. Self-confidence.

The one thing that will win an employer over is a candidate that possesses self-confidence. Self-confidence is a magnet for success. It means that you believe in your own skills, goals, and ability to succeed. In an article posted in the Time Management Ninja, the author lists 10 reasons that self-confidence leads to success.

 10 Reasons That Self-Confidence Leads to Success:

  1. The Drive to Start Things – Confident people start things. They are not shy about striking out on a new idea even when those around them are still pondering it.
  2. The Ability to Stand Up for Oneself – Confidence allows you to stand up for yourself in a fair and consistent manner. Otherwise, you may find yourself unheard or unfairly treated.
  3. The Ability to Say No – Confident people have the ability to say “No” where appropriate. They do not take on unnecessary or inappropriate work or obligations.
  4. The Ability to Say Yes – And at the same time, confident individuals say “Yes” to opportunity. They do not miss new options because they are shy. I have seen individuals pass up opportunities (even promotions) because they didn’t think they were “worthy”.
  5. Confidence Overcomes Fear – Lack of confidence can lead to paralysis from fear. Fear of failure. Fear of what others think. Fear of the unknown. To succeed, you need the confidence to face and overcome your fears.
  6. Believe In Themselves – Self-confidence means believing in yourself. Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t — you’re right.” He was right.
  7. Set the Bar High Enough – Confident individuals set the bar high and aim high. Lack of confidence leads to weak goals, setting the bar too low, and mediocre results.
  8. Stretch Your Limits – Confidence lets you know your limits and test them. By stretching your limits you increase them. You are stronger than you think.
  9. Confidence Asks Questions – Confidence allows you to ask questions, even when others are silent. Confidence even lets you “ask for the job”.
  10. Believe In Winning – Confident people believe in success. And more importantly, they believe in their ability to succeed.

As you prepare to land your new career opportunity, consider the most important thing you can take with you, self-confidence. When you believe in yourself, you stand out in the crowd and you will always have good success!

To ensure that you’re prepared make an appointment with your Career Services team.

Written by: Shaundra Hamilton, Ancora Education – Vice President of Career Services

One Graduate’s Success Story

CorbinI remember the first time I met Corbin Gerner.  Corbin wasn’t even looking for one of our skilled trades programs and visited AAI with his friend for moral support.  “I was only going to support my friend who was interested in AAI’s HVAC/BR program.” But after touring AAI Corbin left with such a great impression of the campus. “When I first walked through the welding lab I saw students cutting metal, grinding steel with sparks flying and I thought that it was the most awesome thing and instantly wanted to try it.”

Corbin is a United States Army Veteran who served five years in the Infantry, did a one-year tour to Iraq and served another year in Afghanistan. He was happy to see that AAI had a big military population, from staff, faculty to students and alumni. He felt right at home. He only had 11 months left on his G.I.-Bill and felt that the “timing was just perfect.” Meeting with our Admissions and Financial Aid team really helped him through the process.

When I first met with Corbin he mentioned that he had just finished his AA degree but still had no idea what to do with his career. I was able to help and guide him. After checking out the skilled trades programs AAI offered, he became more and more interested in our Combination Welding program and enrolled in February 2015. He had never welded before so this was new to him and was really excited to learn the welding trade. Throughout his program we kept in good contact and he always let me know how classes were going for him. He said, “Looking back now, the teachers and staff always checked on me and that kept me motivated.”

In anticipation of graduation Corbin started working more with the Career Services department.  They were able to help him update his resume, helped him with interviewing skills and how to effectively present the skills he learned at AAI to a potential employer. After graduating in November, Corbin landed a job with DH Pace in Phoenix. “I now have the highest paying job I’ve had since getting out of the Army, I’m more than excited every day to go to work now!” stated Corbin.

As an admissions representative at AAI, I find that success stories like Corbin’s are incredibly motivating. Seeing him succeed made me feel like I played a small part in changing his life.  Keep up the great work Corbin!

Written by: Karina Zavala, Admissions Representative – Arizona Automotive Institute